More asylum seekers moved into community detention in Canberra of Australia

10:15, July 22, 2011      

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About 33 asylum-seekers are now living in community detention in Australia Capital Territory while their claims for refugee protection are being assessed, the Canberra Times reported on Thursday.

These asylum seekers were released from detention centers over fears for their mental or physical health.

According to Asylum Seeker Resource Center spokeswoman Pamela Curr, community-based detention cost less to enforce and allowed asylum-seekers to live with dignity.

"When you see people who are depressed, sometimes suicidal, the effect of being free is just magical," she was quoted by the Canberra Times on Thursday.

School-age asylum-seekers are attending local schools and the Red Cross, which is administering the policy, has rented homes for families to live in.

Multicultural Affairs Minister Joy Burch said the Australia Capital Territory state government strongly supported community- based support for asylum-seekers.

"Canberra has always been a welcoming community," she said. "I haven't heard a bad word against it."

In October last year, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen vowed that the government would move "the majority" of children and "a significant number" of vulnerable families into community detention by the end of June.

A department spokesman was quoted by the Canberra Times as saying that since that pledge, Bowen had approved 1,564 people for "residential determination" or community-based detention.

And the federal government has begun employing some creative methods to further its plan.

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